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Where are the women in fintech?

Less than one quarter of the industry is female

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Women make up less than one-quarter of Australia’s fintech industry.

Fintech is a diverse place, full of different and interesting ideas and businesses. But there is one area in which the industry is not diverse: gender.

A mere 24% of Australian fintech staff are women, a new industry census by accounting giant EY has found. And the number of women is staying low.

“Diversity [is] a challenge [for fintech]. The profile of fintechs operating in Australia shows a marked gender imbalance, with 76% of employees being male,” the census said.

“Overall female participation in the fintech workforce has largely remained unchanged from last year.”

This gender gap was top of the agenda at a major fintech conference in Melbourne on Thursday, run by the industry lobby FinTech Australia. A panel called “Women in Fintech,” moderated by Madeleine Grummet of Girled World, discussed the issue. 

“You need to have people picking the teams cognisant of the need for diversity,” said Siobhan Hayden, COO of Hashching. Ms Hayden suggested that women in business should travel overseas for holiday less so that they could spend more the time with family.

For Lynda Coker, Founder of CreateCultivate, the problem was more than just cultural. 

“The problem is largely historical as well. Financial services, just hasn’t historically been diverse,” she said.  

“But I think it takes a whole generation to change that. You are actually seeing more women in financial services now.”

Ms  Coker suggested that banking major Westpac, which encouraged women from other industries to enter banking, offered a good example for fintech to follow.

For Julia French, the managing director of Founders for Founders, the industry needed to run more programmes that worked for women.

“Why not run a programme that runs from 5pm in the evening until 11pm?” she said. Making reference to how workhours flexibility made it easier for mothers to take care of children.  

Panellists agreed that there was a need to address “unconscious bias” among managers to boost women's  participation in fintech.

FinTech Australia has pledged to drive increased female participation in the industry and set a target of “at least 30%” for its own board.

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